Governance effects on deforestation in the tropics: A review of the evidence


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Deforestation represents a significant global challenge, as forest cover worldwide continues to decline. This problem is especially prominent in the tropics and as a result there has been an increase in the efforts to control and reduce deforestation trends. One commonly cited approach is governance, a plastic term with many definitions and approaches. The toolbox to assess governance contains many different indicators, which to date have not been investigated more clearly to determine their individual importance, how they relate to one another, and how they may be influenced by contextual factors. With a focus on tropical forests, this paper begins the discussion of these topics and aims to determine if the claim that governance is related to reduction in deforestation can be supported. To investigate these questions, 28 papers were identified by quantitative literature review and systematically analyzed by method of content analysis to determine which governance indicators and context factors were present in each study. The structure-agency concept was used to determine which indicators were most decisive. Results from the study back-up the idea that governance contributes to lower deforestation, and therefore the authors support its further use for tackling tropical deforestation. However, their results suggest that governance may be better utilized by narrowing its broad approach by focusing on key indicators, namely those which fall into the structural classification. Finally, the paper suggests that governance effects are influenced by deforestation drivers, for example corruption. Overall, the authors call for the revision of governance frameworks, in order to maximize the potential for reducing deforestation in the tropics. 

The paper is written by EFI's Principal Scientist - Forest Governance Lukas Giessen in collaboration with other researchers. 

Full Reference: Fischer R, Giessen L, Günter S (2020): Governance effects on deforestation in the tropics: A review of the evidence. In: Environmental Science & Policy, 105, 84-101. 

Link to publication: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2019.12.007